Image via League of Legends forums.

Can You Solo Carry?

Apr 19, 2018

Recently in the League of Legends subreddit, there’s been quite a bit of discussion on the topic of carrying. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty below, but the gist is the question of whether a “good” player is more important than a “bad” player on a team. I personally feel very strongly about this subject, and it was a large part of why I stopped playing League for several years. Now I’m back and I am enjoying the game, but it’s certainly different from the game it used to be. Is that good or bad? Was having the possibility of a solo carry a positive? Or am I wrong entirely and just an old man reminiscing about the good old days?

The Debate

The debate was reignited by by Reddit user Ciphraa who posted a topic titled “The problem with League right now is the fact that one person can not win the game, but one person can lose the game”. What he means, and goes on to discuss, is that no matter how good a player is, if they have a bad player on their team, they will probably lose. Doing poorly is more impactful to a game than any amount of doing well can be.

That probably doesn’t make sense to many people. After all, if one person is doing badly it’s because someone else is doing well, right? Naturally the person that forced them to do poorly is the best player in the game– Or, at least, the biggest skill gap in that particular role. While that is true to an extent, it’s not what we’re referring to when we say someone is doing poorly. Perhaps one person can feed away a game when they go 0-10, but that very rarely happens. No, the ‘doing poorly’ is more in reference to being there for the team.

I would rather have the 0-3 top laner that groups up with his team than the 5-0 top laner who stays top solo pushing. In fact, unless that 5-0 player miraculously manages to push all the way in and get an inhibitor, I would go so far as to say he’s throwing the game for his team nearly every time. Split pushing is fine, but you need to group up for objectives. Nowadays teams just can’t reliably hold off a 4v5 and if your team loses you can easily lose the game, regardless of how hard you’ve pushed your lane.


Former professional player and streamer WingsofDeathx chimed in on the subject. His full post can be found here. He agreed with the poster, and added some of his own insights to the topic. The biggest thing he contributed that wasn’t said before was that catch-up mechanics have led to this issue.

In seasons 1-4, if you killed your opponent in lane four times by ten minutes, you were probably up three or four levels on them. Not to mention the several items and pressure. The levels specifically were a huge deal because base stats are so important in League. You get literally everything when you level up: health, resists, damage, and another skill point. If you’re down two or three levels, you can’t really do anything to your opponent. Back then, zoning someone out that hard would basically end their game, and likely win your team the whole game.

Then they introduced catch-up mechanics. If you kill monsters higher level than you, you get more experience. If you kill a player higher level, you get a TON of experience. They also instituted a lot more shut down opportunities, and spread the gold across the team to help players who were behind. Now if you kill your lane opponent four times by ten minutes, they will probably be one, maybe two levels behind you. If, heaven forbid, their jungler comes and your opponent kills you? You’re the same level again. A single gank, or a single misplay, can give up your entire experience lead. And with shut down gold, your opponent would only end up being down a few hundred gold as well.

All of this means that there’s almost no way to make your opponent irrelevant. No matter how well you do, you can’t force your lane opponent out of the game. Before, you’d be worth 1.5 players for all your kills and gold, and your opponent would be worth less than half a player. Now it’s closer to 1.2 and 0.8. Sure, it gives you a lead, but it’s nothing compared to the old days.

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Author ‘Insight’

When I said I was passionate about this subject, I meant it. One of the best feelings in any video game is pulling off something insane that no one thought was possible. What better feeling in League than going off and just 1v5ing their team? It used to happen every once in a while, and for a game you’d feel like a god. Nowadays you can 1v2 occasionally if you’re really fed!

The feeling of being a god may not be gone, but it certainly is different. Now you have to pull off flashy plays to help your team win a fight. Pulling off a similar play to kill the entire enemy team solo no longer happens– Well, not usually. Personally, I miss that feeling. When I stopped playing, one of the big reasons was that it had been a long time since I had a game where I truly felt like I ‘went off’. Where I was so big that the enemy team just couldn’t kill me, no matter what they tried. Maybe that sounds awful, especially from the other team’s perspective. But it was definitely an adrenaline rush.

Is Solo Carrying that Great?

It’s difficult to solo carry. With all the catchup mechanics, it’s really difficult for you to outweigh your opponents. As long as they are willing to group up, it’s rare that you’ll have a team that so far outweighs their opponents that you can even 4v5. League of Legends has truly turned into the team game that it has always strived to become.

So is that a good thing or not? Solo carrying feels amazing, but being destroyed because your top laner went 0-5 doesn’t feel very good. Then again, having four members doing well, but a fifth that refuses to group feels even worse – losing because a single player won’t contribute. Personally, I see the ups and downs of both systems and, for me, the tipping point is that I miss feeling like a League of Legends god sometimes. But I’m sure many other people love being able to work with their teammates to create a cohesive victory.

At the end of the day, good or bad, League is a different game from the game of eons past. Lots of people won’t like these changes and leave, as I did. Many others will play far more because it’s a great way to connect with their friends. At the end of the day, we all come back. League is the glue we just can’t seem to shake loose. At least not alone, perhaps if we had a team to help…

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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
What do you think?

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